UK diagnostics firm Intelligent Fingerprinting and Imperial College London have joined forces to develop a simple 10-minute COVID-19 fingerprint test. The two organisations will pool resources to accelerate the development and validation of the pioneering test which would be ideal for use by non-medical staff in care homes and workplaces. The partnership will draw on Intelligent Fingerprinting’s expertise in non-invasive fingerprint sweat-based diagnostics, which is already proven in its revolutionary fingerprint drug test system.
The project will use Intelligent Fingerprinting’s existing technology – which features highly sensitive lateral flow technology and fluorescence measurement techniques within a portable test reader – to create a ‘point-of-care’ test that allows COVID-19 testing to be carried out quickly and safely by non-medical professionals. Intelligent Fingerprinting will work with researchers at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London to validate its testing approach and accelerate development.
A fingerprint-based system could play a significant role in enabling rapid coronavirus testing at the point of care. Current diagnostic tests for coronavirus – which tell whether people have the COVID-19 virus – can take hours or even days if the test sample needs to be sent off to a laboratory for analysis. In contrast, the Intelligent Fingerprinting approach, which works by collecting fingerprint sweat onto a small test cartridge for analysis using a portable reader, has potential to deliver a positive or negative COVID-19 result on-site within just ten minutes. The system is hygienic and non-invasive and by using the sweat from fingerprints rather than nasal or oral fluid samples, there is no hazardous biological waste associated with each test.
“Intelligent Fingerprinting is delighted to be working with researchers at Imperial College London on this important development project,” said the company’s Executive Chairman, Philip Hand. “Bringing together our joint expertise will greatly enhance the potential of delivering this ground-breaking testing solution in a meaningful timeframe.”
Commenting on the ongoing development of a fingerprint-based COVID-19 diagnostic test, Lord Darzi, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, said: “I continue to support this development initiative. Adding rapid point of care testing capacity would help us to get much closer to understanding the spread of the virus. Fingerprint testing using a portable system would also be particularly valuable in supporting simple and easy testing by non-medically trained staff at multiple sites across the UK, such as care homes and workplaces.”
Fingerprint-based testing – how it works
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s testing solution features a small, tamper-evident screening cartridge onto which ten fingerprint sweat samples are collected, in a process which takes less than a minute. The Intelligent Fingerprinting portable DSR-Plus analysis unit then reads the cartridge and provides a positive or negative result on-screen in ten minutes. Combining the DSR-Plus reader with a dedicated coronavirus testing cartridge would provide the basis for a robust, extremely sensitive and rapid COVID-19 test that is suitable for deployment at a range of locations.
An introductory video demonstrating fingerprint-based testing in action is available here.
Since introducing its revolutionary drug screening system in 2017, Intelligent Fingerprinting has seen its concept of fast, simple fingerprint-based drug testing gain traction, both in safety-critical workplace environments such as construction, transport or shipping; drug rehabilitation services, or more specialist application areas such as detecting drug mules at airports, supporting traffic police, or for use by coroners to assist in gaining an early understanding of the possible cause of a death.
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About Intelligent Fingerprinting
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s portable Drug Screening System works by analysing fingerprint sweat. It is non-invasive, fast and cost-effective, with sample collection taking seconds and simultaneous screening for multiple drug groups in ten minutes. A laboratory confirmation service is also available.
The system has applications within many sectors and customers include employers in safety-critical industries such as construction, transport and logistics firms, drug treatment and family safeguarding organisations, as well as UK coroners. The company has distributors across the globe, including the USA.
Founded in 2007, Intelligent Fingerprinting is a spin-out company from the University of East Anglia (UEA). The company is based in Cambridge, England and employs around 30 people.
About Imperial College London
Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading universities. The College’s 17,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for our society.
Imperial is the UK’s most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK’s most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry.